Have you ever noticed that Jack Nicklaus, Michael Jordan, and Barry Bonds all have coaches? Doesn't it seem like someone of that caliber wouldn't need a coach? Everyone needs a coach... whether in sports, business, or church planting. In sports the coach's primary role is to bring out the best in the athlete and in team sports to get all the players working together. In church planting these two goals still apply... to bring out the best in the church planter and getting the church planter working with God. These are primarily accomplished through asking the right questions and challenging the church planter to think God thoughts and make Godly decisions. This can include:
To be effective, the coach should have personally planted a successful church or have other similar personal experience with church planting. Since the church planter hasn't planted a church before (usually), this experience is a great way for the church planter to learn from someone else's experience... both good and bad. As can be seen from the list above, the coach also provides support for the Church Planter as a mentor. In addition to overseeing the church plant itself, the coach should monitor the personal and spiritual health of the church planter. This helps ensure that the Church Planter will be able to perform their role well without sacrificing their family or own spiritual well-being. Often, these the role of coach and mentor is performed by two people.
Choosing the right coach is critical. Sometimes church planting organizations train and select coaches for the church planter. Other times the church planter chooses the coach. Regardless, the church planter must have a coach they respect both personally and professionally and with whom they share fundamental beliefs. As an absolute minimum, the coach should be available for a monthly conference call. A more ideal arrangement is a weekly 1 to 2 hour phone call with the church planter. The coach should commit to working with the Church Planter for 1-3 years. Whenever possible, the church planter should be involved in choosing the coach and/or mentor.
Building a church is complicated. It requires a great deal of broad knowledge that few church planters possess. Proverbs 9:9 says, 'Instruct a wise man and he will be wiser still; teach a righteous man and he will add to his learning.' and 12:15, 'The way of a fool seems right to him, but a wise man listens to advice.' We all need advice. We all need someone to bounce ideas off.
Frank had to pick between opening in February at an acceptable location, or waiting until April to launch in a fantastic location. He didn't know how to judge between gaining momentum for the summer by launching early, or choosing a better location. Through conversations with his coach he was able to determine the best choice for his church. Without the counsel of someone who has been there and done that Frank wouldn't have had anyone with experience to help weigh the options.
Bob has a different problem. His personality makes it very difficult for him to make big decisions. Since he doesn't have a coach, he struggles getting important things done in a timely manner. He finds it difficult to choose a church name. There are too many options and none stands apart. This has put him behind the ball in obtaining his 501(c)(3) recognition which jeopardizes his ability to send out a direct mail campaign. If Bob had a coach who was able to push him to make decisions, he'd be able to save thousands of dollars and focus on other things.
You may be tempted to save money and not hire a coach. Don't cut corners in this area. Make hiring a coach a non-negotiable action for yourself.
(Source: Ed Stetzer, NewChurches.com)